If You're Depressed, Should You Date?
With 1 in every 20 people suffering from depression, mental health experts say being social can be a part of healing.
Relationships aren't always like a love scene in your favorite romantic comedy. Sometimes they're like the scene in that television drama that made you cry. In extreme cases, it can be like that scene in the horror movie that made you stop what you were doing and leave the room.
For people with depression, navigating a relationship can feel like all three.
Mental Health took center stage this month, with the first week of October devoted to Mental Illness Awareness, and the World Health Organization observing World Mental Health Day Oct. 10. WHO reports that 350 million people suffer from depression globally. With 7 billion people walking on Earth, that means that 1 in every 20 people is depressed, making it very likely that you may suffer from depression or find yourself in a relationship with someone dealing with the symptoms of depression.
While feeling blue after a relationship ends may be a familiar topic, dating while depressed, or dating a person who is depressed, is not always discussed.
"It probably wouldn't want to be the first thing they bring up unless their partner has dealt with that before," says Dr. Samantha Jordan of Atlanta Area Psychological Associates. "But if it's something you really want and see it as long term, then yes be open as possible down the line."
A 2010 report by the Wall Street Journal said that 15 million American adults a year suffer from major depressive disorder. And 6 million Americans have another mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other psychotic disorders. But a full 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia don't believe they are ill and resist seeking help. People with clinical depression are said to resist treatment at similar rates. And when it comes to the African American community, many have a tough time even admitting that they may have a mental illness.
"We actually encourage people with milder forms of depression to get out and be social, and if they are ready, enter a romantic relationship," says Jordan. "It's nothing they have to shy away from."
Those suffering from more severe cases of depression may want to be more cautious.
"I think people who are battling bigger forms may not want to enter a relationship until they deal with their issues and get some treatment for that," says Jordan. "It's similar to people with substance abuse issues, we advise them not to make any major decisions when you're still recovering. We want you to allow yourself time to heal and get skills on how to deal with your issue."